The Board issued in March 2017 Accounting Standards Update (ASU) (ASU) No. 2017-07, Compensation—Retirement Benefits (Topic 715): Improving the Presentation of Net Periodic Pension Cost and Net Periodic Postretirement Benefit Cost to improve the presentation of net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit cost. Under generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), defined benefit pension cost and postretirement benefit cost (net benefit cost) comprise several components that reflect different aspects of an employer’s financial arrangements as well as the cost of benefits provided to employees. Those components are aggregated for reporting in the financial statements of the employer. Current GAAP does not prescribe where the amount of net benefit cost should be presented in an employer’s income statement and does not require entities to disclose by line item the amount of net benefit cost that is included in the income statement or capitalized in assets. As such, some stakeholders stated that the current presentation requirement is less transparent, reduces the decision usefulness of the financial information, and requires users to incur greater costs in analyzing financial statements. To improve the reporting of net benefit cost in the financial statements, the FASB added a standard-setting project to provide additional guidance on the presentation of net benefit cost in the income statement and on the components eligible for capitalization in assets.
The amendments in ASU 2017-07 require that an employer report the service cost component in the same line item or items as other compensation costs arising from services rendered by the pertinent employees during the period. The other components of net benefit cost (as defined in paragraphs 715-30-35-4 and 715-60- 35-9) are required to be presented in the income statement separately from the service cost component and outside a subtotal of income from operations, if one is presented. If a separate line item or items are used to present the other components of net benefit cost, that line item or items must be appropriately described. If a separate line item or items are not used, the line item or items used in the income statement to present the other components of net benefit cost must be disclosed.
The amendments in ASU 2017-7 also allow only the service cost component to be eligible for capitalization when applicable (for example, as a cost of internally manufactured inventory or a self-constructed asset).
The amendments in ASU 2017-07 require that an employer disaggregate the service cost component from the other components of net benefit cost. The amendments also provide explicit guidance on how to present the service cost component and the other components of net benefit cost in the income statement and allow only the service cost component of net benefit cost to be eligible for capitalization.
The amendments in ASU 2017-07 are effective for public business entities for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2017, including interim periods within those annual periods. For other entities, the amendments are effective for annual periods beginning after December 15, 2018, and interim periods within annual periods beginning after December 15, 2019. Early adoption is permitted as of the beginning of an annual period for which financial statements (interim or annual) have not been issued or made available for issuance. That is, early adoption should be within the first interim period if an employer issues interim financial statements. Disclosures of the nature of and reason for the change in accounting principle are required in the first interim and annual periods of adoption.
The amendments in ASU 2017-0 should be applied retrospectively for the presentation of the service cost component and the other components of net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit cost in the income statement and prospectively, on and after the effective date, for the capitalization of the service cost component of net periodic pension cost and net periodic postretirement benefit in assets. The amendments allow a practical expedient that permits an employer to use the amounts disclosed in its pension and other postretirement benefit plan note for the prior comparative periods as the estimation basis for applying the retrospective presentation requirements. Disclosure that the practical expedient was used is required.